Saturday, March 03, 2007

Loneliness by the track

Union Station, deserted
Toronto, Ontario, March 2007 [Click all images to enlarge]

Every time I go somewhere, I take my camera with me. Although I don't always have a lot of free time, I try to grab a picture here and there so that when I get home, I have something tangible to share, a memory of where I was.

The rule applies even on a same-day trip like my visit to Toronto this past Thursday. Because the day itself was so rushed (see here and here for more background), I didn't any time to shoot. A massive blizzard/ice storm had slammed into the entire region, and I was so focused on preparing for a daunting series of interviews that the camera sat in its bag the entire day.

So as I took my seat on the late evening train - delayed, of course - to head home, I found myself disappointed that I didn't have an image of a memorable trip. I screwed up my courage, picked up my camera, walked back to the still-open stairway and asked the three Via Rail staff on the platform if I could get off for a moment to take some pictures.

One of them smiled broadly, said she liked my "big camera", and waved me on down. They said they were still waiting for the signal to leave, and I had a few minutes to have some fun. Cool, I thought. Couldn't do that in the airport.

So I descended to the cold platform. Because snow was still blowing randomly, I needed to ensure none got on the lens. I guessed the wind's direction and positioned myself really close to the side of the stainless steel car. I've always loved the look of stainless steel because it literally reflects the romance of the rails. I shot quickly before heading back and thanking them for their courtesy and understanding.

I took a final picture of the three workers before boarding the train, and handed my business card to one of them as we animatedly chatted about the crazy things I do to get a picture. In a very barren place, on a cold night far from home, I connected with three strangers and hopefully brought them a little warmth as they wondered about their own trips home.

Your turn: Connecting far from home. Please discuss.


Michael K. Althouse said...

I love these shots - especially the second. I've always been partial to lines running through the shot. I like how these start from behind the lens and continue right out the top of the shot. And I love trains anyway.

There's more to these, however. There's a mood that's difficult to describe. Anything that leaves me speechless is saying something!

Here from Michele's this time.


Natalya said...

I am so glad you stepped off the train for a moment!! I particularly like the final image! Something I could never get a shot of here in the UK as we just dont get snow like you do!!

I hope that you and your family are enjoying your weekend :o)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Sweet. The adventure, the kindness of the rail workers, the shots, the whole thing.

I've been bemoaning the lack of having my new digital with me -- there's a bathroom sink (and counter) leaning against a street sign near here. I've been trying to figure out a safe place to park so I can go get the shot... (too cold to bike over)

As for connecting... I do it wherever I go. It's a Pittsburgh thing, I swear it.

picperfic said...

I'm so glad you summoned up the courage to take these shots, it seems like you lead a very busy life! I love the second shot, and have taken similar shots myself from the window of a moving steam train as it curved along the track billowy clouds of smokey steam on a resurrected railway line. In fact steam trains is something of a nostalgic passion of mine, I just love the history and memories they evoke. I watched the film clip of you talking about Motorola, I'll be honest and tell you that I wasn't so much interested in the content, I was more being nosey to see whether you looked the same as your avatar on your blog!
Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog too, sorry to hear that you suffer also from migraine, I have a magical tablet that works on the blood vessels and usually within two hours of taking a tablet my ordeal is over but for some reason, this time the tablets didn't work too well and the pain left me unable to settle and rest so I knitted my granddaughter a sock! You should try knitting, it's so very calming! ;^) I am ok now I hasten to add although I am still shattered and VERY tired but no doubt a good nights sleep will sort me out!

Annie said...

These shots do remind me of the lonliness of travel. Very beautifully captured golden and reflective light!

CG said...

The second image is my favourite but they all convey the cold and emptiness of the station so well.

I remember chatting to a guy sweeping up litter in one of the Florida Disney Parks. He'd lived in England for a while. We talked for ages and that conversation was one of my favourite memories of the trip.

Lifelong Learner said...

Hey Carmi! I used the picture...thanks so much! The story ended up being more personal and less reflective than I intended....but my mom liked it. :) That picture really did bring back a lot of memories. Maybe I'll use it to write the other one later. Thanks for taking it, and keep it up! Your pictures and writing are always interesting.


Unknown said...

I don't think I connect as much as I should. Today I've done a lot of thinking on that.

Here from Michele's.

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

I also like the second shot, all of them have a warm glow to them because of the light which is very deceiving because it was obviously very cold.

I hope those people contact you and you can let them have a copy of their photo.

On the subject "far from home", I am a bit of a nomad I suppose and will probably never return to the place that is my birth home although it certainly doesnt resemble the place that I grew up in now. It is run, down, dirty, and poverty stricken now (Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia). I find that pretty sad really. I did live in South Africa for 15 years but I dont consider it home really. I do however still have two people that I keep in touch with via the web in Zimbabwe. They have stuck it out, dont know how.

So that is another little snippet of my journey through life, I think I should write a book LOL.

Thanks for all your thought provoking posts.


Anna said...

These are great Carmi.

I am like Mike. I love the lines in shots. And this I love! The colors I like as well....

Nice images!

Craver said...

I love it that some people see 'cold' in these photos and some see 'warm'.
I see warm, but I think it's because of your words "the romance of the rails" that phrase lingered in my mind while I looked back over the pictures, and felt warm.

You make me want to take more pictures.

kenju said...

Michele sent me tonight, Carmi. I love the second and third pics. The reflections in the 2nd are very nice and the third reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting.

As to connecting: we are only a cell phone call away.

Unknown said...

Great photos, as usual. You're really getting very good for someone that uses words more than visuals.

As for the discussion item of the day, I have a good story from long ago. I was in the Prado in Madrid looking at the Bosch painting of the 7 deadly sins, and a big family of several generations came over all excited at seeing the painting, but unable to read the spanish information blurb...because they were Israeli. So I stepped up to the plate and translated from Spanish to Hebrew for them, and they were so glad to find someone that spoke Hebrew and understood Spanish that they took me out to lunch, and then dinner, and then we spent the next day touring Madrid together.

I still hear from them occasionally. I think that's the best connection I've ever made far from home.

Here via Michele.

David Edward said...

home - always more appreciated after a week like this - with four days away ( to work)
here from the lady with the nice legs

Karen said...

Hi Carmi. It's been ages and I'm just getting back into the blogosphere. I just wanted to stop by and say hello. Hope you're well.

rashbre said...

I like the carriage side shot and the perspective. Also the colours. They are quite difficult shots because of the focus. Especially when everything is shiny as well!


Anonymous said...

"Connecting far from home"...

Isn't that kind of what each of us does, every time we click on someone's blog? We are "connecting" with strangers (who gradually become acquaintances), from all over the world....

As for the act of "connecting", in runs in my family (yes, I am serious)...BOTH of my parents are skilled at striking up a conversation with a stranger, out of the blue... i have always liked that about them. they have met some of the nicest people that way...and I have personally seen them make a difference in someone's life (a lonely, tired waitress; an anxious, weary college student; so many different scenerios come to mind). I try to do this treat everyone I meet as kindly and humanely as possible. I read somewhere that so many people are quietly fighting their own secret battles...and a word of kindness or encouragement can sometimes make all the difference. Thank your for doing your part to remind me of that truth...